О сочинительстве

У меня нет привычки поправлять мои сочинения (уже законченные). Я этого никогда не делал, ибо глубоко убежден, что всякое частичное исправление искажает общий характер произведения.


Почему я пишу? То, что у меня на сердце, должно найти себе выход. Вот поэтому-то я и пишу.

Неужели вы думаете, что я помню о какой-то скрипке несчастной, когда со мной говорит дух и я пишу то, что он мне повелевает!


Обычно, когда я пишу, даже инструментальную музыку, у меня перед глазами весь замысел в целом.


Писать без фортепиано необходимо. Мало-помалу рождается способность отчетливо представлять себе то, к чему мы стремимся, и то, что мы чувствуем, а это насущная потребность благородных душ.(Эрцгерцогу Рудольфу)

Я ничего никогда не пишу подряд, без перерыва. Я всегда работаю над несколькими вещами одновременно, принимаясь то за одно, то за другое.1

Так как я сознаю, чего хочу, то основная идея не покидает меня никогда; она поднимается, она вырастает, и я вижу и слышу образ во всем его объеме, стоящим перед моим внутренним взором как бы в отлитом виде.2


Beethoven, the Man and the Artist, As Revealed in His Own Words by Ludwig van Beethoven, edited by Friedrich Kerst and Henry Edward Krehbiel:

31. "As regards me, great heavens! my dominion is in the air; the tones whirl like the wind, and often there is a like whirl in my soul."

     (February 13, 1814, to Count Brunswick, in Buda.)

32. "Then the loveliest themes slipped out of your eyes into my heart, themes which shall only then delight the world when Beethoven conducts no longer."

     (August 15, 1812, to Bettina von Arnim.)

33. "I always have a picture in my mind when composing, and follow its lines."

     (In 1815, to Neate, while promenading with him in Baden and talking
about the "Pastoral" symphony.)

[Ries relates: "While composing Beethoven frequently thought of an object, although he often laughed at musical delineation and scolded about petty things of the sort. In this respect 'The Creation' and 'The Seasons' were many times a butt, though without depreciation of Haydn's loftier merits. Haydn's choruses and other works were loudly praised by Beethoven."]

34. "The texts which you sent me are least of all fitted for song. The description of a picture belongs to the field of painting; in this the poet can count himself more fortunate than my muse for his territory is not so restricted as mine in this respect, though mine, on the other hand, extends into other regions, and my dominion is not easily reached."

     (Nussdorf, July 15, 1817, to Wilhelm Gerhard, who had sent him some
Anacreontic songs for composition.)

35. "Carried too far, all delineation in instrumental music loses in efficiency."

     (A remark in the sketches for the "Pastoral" symphony, preserved in the
Royal Library in Berlin.)

[Mozart said: "Even in the most terrifying moments music must never offend the ear."]

36. "Yes, yes, then they are amazed and put their heads together because they never found it in any book on thorough bass."

     (To Ries when the critics accused him of making grammatical blunders in

37. "No devil can compel me to write only cadences of such a kind."

     (From notes written in his years of study. Beethoven called the
composition of fugues "the art of making musical skeletons.")

38. "Good singing was my guide; I strove to write as flowingly as possible and trusted in my ability to justify myself before the judgment-seat of sound reason and pure taste."

     (From notes in the instruction book of Archduke Rudolph.)

39. "Does he believe that I think of a wretched fiddle when the spirit speaks to me?"

     (To his friend, the admirable violinist Schuppanzigh, when the latter
complained of the difficulty of a passage in one of his works.)

[Beethoven here addresses his friend in the third person, which is the customary style of address for the German nobility and others towards inferiors in rank. H. E. K.]

40. "The Scotch songs show how unconstrainedly irregular melodies can be treated with the help of harmony."

     (Diary, 1812-1818. Since 1809 Beethoven had arranged Folksongs for
Thomson of Edinburgh.)

41. "To write true church music, look through the old monkish chorals, etc., also the most correct translations of the periods, and perfect prosody in the Catholic Psalms and hymns generally."

     (Diary, 1818.)

42. "Many assert that every minor piece must end in the minor. Nego! On the contrary I find that in the soft scales the major third at the close has a glorious and uncommonly quieting effect. Joy follows sorrow, sunshine—rain. It affects me as if I were looking up to the silvery glistering of the evening star."

     (From Archduke Rudolph's book of instruction.)

43. "Rigorists, and devotees of antiquity, relegate the perfect fourth to the list of dissonances. Tastes differ. To my ear it gives not the least offence combined with other tones."

     (From Archduke Rudolph's book of instruction, compiled in 1809.)

44. "When the gentlemen can think of nothing new, and can go no further, they quickly call in a diminished seventh chord to help them out of the predicament."

     (A remark made to Schindler.)

45. "My dear boy, the startling effects which many credit to the natural genius of the composer, are often achieved with the greatest ease by the use and resolution of the diminished seventh chords."

     (Reported by Karl Friederich Hirsch, a pupil of Beethoven in the winter
of 1816. He was a grandson of Albrechtsberger who had given lessons to

46. "In order to become a capable composer one must have already learned harmony and counterpoint at the age of from seven to eleven years, so that when the fancy and emotions awake one shall know what to do according to the rules."

     (Reported by Schindler as having been put into the mouth of Beethoven by
a newspaper of Vienna. Schindler says: "When Beethoven came to Vienna he
knew no counterpoint, and little harmony.")

47. "So far as mistakes are concerned it was never necessary for me to learn thorough-bass; my feelings were so sensitive from childhood that I practiced counterpoint without knowing that it must be so or could be otherwise."

     (Note on a sheet containing directions for the use of fourths in
suspensions—probably intended for the instruction of Archduke Rudolph.)

48. "Continue, Your Royal Highness, to write down briefly your occasional ideas while at the pianoforte. For this a little table alongside the pianoforte is necessary. By this means not only is the fancy strengthened, but one learns to hold fast in a moment the most remote conceptions. It is also necessary to compose without the pianoforte; say often a simple chord melody, with simple harmonies, then figurate according to the rules of counterpoint, and beyond them; this will give Y. R. H. no headache, but, on the contrary, feeling yourself thus in the midst of art, a great pleasure."

     (July 1, 1823, to his pupil Archduke Rudolph.)

49. "The bad habit, which has clung to me from childhood, of always writing down a musical thought which occurs to me, good or bad, has often been harmful to me."

     (July 23, 1815, to Archduke Rudolph, while excusing himself for not
having visited H.R.H., on the ground that he had been occupied in noting
a musical idea which had occurred to him.)

50. "As is my habit, the pianoforte part of the concerto (op. 19) was not written out in the score; I have just written it, wherefore, in order to expedite matters, you receive it in my not too legible handwriting."

     (April 22, 1801, to the publisher Hofmeister, in Leipzig.)

51. "Correspondence, as you know, was never my forte; some of my best friends have not had a letter from me in years. I live only in my notes (compositions), and one is scarcely finished when another is begun. As I am working now I often compose three, even four, pieces simultaneously."

     (Vienna, June 29, 1800, to Wegeler, in Bonn.)

52. "I never write a work continuously, without interruption. I am always working on several at the same time, taking up one, then another."

     (June 1, 1816, to Medical Inspector Dr. Karl von Bursy, when the latter
asked about an opera (the book by Berge, sent to Beethoven by Amenda),
which was never written.)

53. "I must accustom myself to think out at once the whole, as soon as it shows itself, with all the voices, in my head."

     (Note in a sketch-book of 1810, containing studies for the music to
"Egmont" and the great Trio in B-flat, op. 97. H. E. K.)

54. "I carry my thoughts about me for a long time, often a very long time, before I write them down; meanwhile my memory is so faithful that I am sure never to forget, not even in years, a theme that has once occurred to me. I change many things, discard, and try again until I am satisfied. Then, however, there begins in my head the development in every direction, and, in as much as I know exactly what I want, the fundamental idea never deserts me,—it arises before me, grows,—I see and hear the picture in all its extent and dimensions stand before my mind like a cast, and there remains for me nothing but the labor of writing it down, which is quickly accomplished when I have the time, for I sometimes take up other work, but never to the confusion of one with the other.

"You will ask me where I get my ideas. That I cannot tell you with certainty; they come unsummoned, directly, indirectly,—I could seize them with my hands,—out in the open air; in the woods; while walking; in the silence of the nights; early in the morning; incited by moods, which are translated by the poet into words, by me into tones that sound, and roar and storm about me until I have set them down in notes."

     (Said to Louis Schlosser, a young musician, whom Beethoven honored with
his friendship in 1822-23.)

55. "On the whole, the carrying out of several voices in strict relationship mutually hinders their progress."

     (Fall of 1812, in the Diary of 1812-18.)

56. "Few as are the claims which I make upon such things I shall still accept the dedication of your beautiful work with pleasure. You ask, however, that I also play the part of a critic, without thinking that I must myself submit to criticism! With Voltaire I believe that 'a few fly-bites can not stop a spirited horse.' In this respect I beg of you to follow my example. In order not to approach you surreptitiously, but openly as always, I say that in future works of the character you might give more heed to the individualization of the voices."

     (Vienna, May 10, 1826. To whom the letter was sent is not known, though
from the manner of address it is plain that he was of the nobility.)

57. "Your variations show talent, but I must fault you for having changed the theme. Why? What man loves must not be taken away from him;—moreover to do this is to make changes before variations."

     (Baden, July 6, 1804, to Wiedebein, a teacher of music in Brunswick.)

58. "I am not in the habit of rewriting my compositions. I never did it because I am profoundly convinced that every change of detail changes the character of the whole."

     (February 19, 1813, to George Thomson, who had requested some changes in
compositions submitted to him for publication.)

59. "One must not hold one's self so divine as to be unwilling occasionally to make improvements in one's creations."

     (March 4, 1809, to Breitkopf and Hartel, when indicating a few changes
which he wished to have made in the symphonies op. 67 and op. 68.)

60. "The unnatural rage for transcribing pianoforte pieces for string instruments (instruments that are in every respect so different from each other) ought to end. I stoutly maintain that only Mozart could have transcribed his own works, and Haydn; and without putting myself on a level with these great men I assert the same thing about my pianoforte sonatas. Not only must entire passages be elided and changed, but additions must be made; and right here lies the rock of offence to overcome which one must be the master of himself or be possessed of the same skill and inventiveness. I transcribed but a single sonata for string quartet, and I am sure that no one will easily do it after me."

     (July 13, 1809, in an announcement of several compositions, among them
the quintet op. 29.)

61. "Were it not that my income brings in nothing, I should compose nothing but grand symphonies, church music, or, at the outside, quartets in addition."

     (December 20, 1822, to Peters, publisher, in Leipzig. His income had
been reduced from 4,000 to 800 florins by the depreciation of Austrian

[Here, in the original, is one of the puns which Beethoven was fond of making: "Ware mein Gehalt nicht ganzlich ohne Gehalt." H. E. K.]

  • 1. Мис П. в кн. Проблемы бетховенского стиля. М. 1932
  • 2. Проблемы бетховенского стиля. М. 1932, стр. 314-315